Do ghosts exist? Of course they do! Digital ones, that is.
We recreate the dead in many ways today. Deceased actors appear onscreen as reconstituted out of computer-generated wizardry - think Peter Cushing as Grand Moff Tarkin in the 2017 Star Wars: Rogue One film, or Audrey Hepburn in the 2016 advertisements for Galaxy chocolate. Loved ones are projected as life-like holograms that address the living - for example, reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s late father, Robert Kardashian, was presented to her in 2020 by her then-husband Kanye. The contexts are varied, perhaps even absurd. But one thing is clear: the dead are still with us. Audiovisual culture and technologies grant them new (after-)lives.
In this context, we discuss ‘ABBA Voyage’, the hologram concert tour of Swedish pop group ABBA due to begin in May 2022 at a purpose-built arena in London. While the group’s members are still alive, their re-creation as ‘digital beings’ for their concert tour represents the writing of a new chapter in the history of digital ghosts.
Come along to consider what it means to accept living people as holograms present before us in real-time and seemingly in-person, and discover how digitisation may change our ideas of life, death and after-life.
This event will take place live on Zoom Webinar. You’ll receive a link to join a couple of days before the event takes place and a reminder an hour before. During the event, you can ask questions via a Q&A function, but audience cameras and microphones will remain muted throughout.
About the speakers
Nick Bax is the founder and creative director of Humanstudio (aka HumanVR), which has a growing portfolio of immersive work, and is a recognised creator and innovator of XR content. He is currently XR Stories Research Fellow at the University of York, following his PhD study at the University of Sheffield exploring mixed reality storytelling with particular regard to nonlinear narratives and the virtual re-creation of people, places and memory. In 2018 and 2019, Nick was selected for the UKRI ‘UK-China Creative Industries’ programme in Shanghai as sole representative from creative and digital Yorkshire SMEs.
Dr Jenna Ng is Senior Lecturer in Film and Interactive Media at the University of York. Her research centres on digital visual culture, and her books include Understanding Machinima: Essays on Films in Virtual Worlds (Bloomsbury, 2013) and The Post-Screen Through Virtual Reality, Holograms and Light Projections: Where Screen Boundaries Lie (Amsterdam University Press, 2021). The latter in particular explores holographic projections in relation to digital death, life and after-life: there are ghosts yet amongst and of the living.